ARRL Field Day Tips and Techniques that Everyone Can Use
Many amateurs treat ARRL Field Day (June 27-28) as a contest, even though it isn't one. But if your idea of Field Day fun is to go for the highest score possible, ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, offered the following suggestions at the ARRL Field Day Forum at the 2009 Dayton Hamvention.
1) You will get many more stations in your log by calling CQ than by tuning the dial and answering CQs; however, if you're calling CQ and not getting any replies, keep calling. Most major contesters call CQ for several minutes at a time before giving up. Giving up after three or four CQs is giving up too soon.
2) Keep your CQs short and to the point: "CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day, Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey, Field Day." Wait about 5 seconds between CQs -- this gives stations enough time to answer you.
3) Use standard phonetics. "Cute" phonetics don't always get through and they can confuse newer operators.
4) When working a station, you should give your exchange information only once and keep it simple. "Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey, copy three Foxtrot Connecticut, QSL?" If they didn't get all of the exchange, they will ask for a repeat.
5) If you are running a pileup: Once you have pulled a call out of the pileup, give your exchange information first. Here's an example: "Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey, copy 3F Connecticut, QSL?" Don't ask for the calling station's information first -- this will reduce any sense of rhythm and timing in the pileup.
6) If you get a pileup of stations and can't make out an entire call, listen for one letter and ask for it specifically: "The station with Delta only, go ahead."
7) When you get the other station's information, keep your acknowledgment simple. "QSL, thanks, QRZ Field Day from Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey."
8) Find a comfortable pace for you and maintain that pace. You will tire quickly if you are screaming into the microphone or trying to work stations too quickly. This leads to inefficiency.
9) Use a headset with a boom microphone and a foot switch -- this frees up your hands to log QSOs. Writing or typing with a mike in your hand slows you down.
10) Go for as many bonus points as you possibly can. Numerous opportunities exist, from copying the Field Day message to sending traffic to using natural power for QSOs.
These tips should help maximize your score on Field Day. Remember: No matter how you choose to enjoy Field Day, maximize your fun, however you define it.